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EPA biologist says fracking may be partly to blame for West Virginia fish kill

New documents obtained by an environmental news service show that an EPA analyst believes that wastewater from fracking may be partly responsible for a fish kill in a West Virginia river.

Scientific American reports:

U.S. EPA has ended its investigation and pointed the finger at a local coal mine, Blacksville No. 2, and entered a multimillion-dollar settlement with the owner, Consol Energy Inc.

But the lead EPA biologist on the case has challenged that idea, saying that the most likely explanation for the fish kill involves the environmental effects of Marcellus Shale drilling.

Emails obtained by Greenwire through a Freedom of Information Act request show EPA biologist Lou Reynolds telling colleagues that coal mine drainage is unlikely to be the sole culprit.

“Something has changed in the mine pools,” Reynolds wrote in a November 2009 email. The change, he said, could have come from miners digging deeper into a coal seam.

But it could also be the case, he said, that “Mining companies are disposing of [coalbed methane] and Marcellus water in the mine pool,” or “Mining companies are taking [coalbed methane] and Marcellus water into their treatment ponds.

“One or any combinations of the above might be happening,” Reynolds wrote.

Disposal of the wastewater produced by fracking, which can be hundreds of thousands of gallons for every well, remains a major concern for environmentalists and regulators.

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